CT Scans Not Always Best Response to Head Injuries

Filed under: In The News, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens, Health & Safety: Teens, Health

CT Scans

It might be a good idea to observe children for awhile before getting them a CT scan. Credit: Getty Images

One of the first things you want to do after a child has suffered a head injury is get him a CT scan. Right?

No, actually.

Reuters reports it might be a good idea to observe children for awhile. If it turns out they don't need a computed tomography (CT) scan, they can avoid an unnecessary dose of radiation.

Lise Nigrovic at Children's Hospital in Boston worked on a study that concludes this is especially true for children who have some risk of a serious brain injury, but aren't showing serious symptoms.

Nigrovic tells Reuters if a child goes to an emergency room very soon after a head injury, "you may just not have had enough time for symptoms to develop."

Or, a child may have some concerning symptoms, she adds, "but you just want a little time."

According to Reuters, Nigrovic and her fellow researchers reviewed data on more than 40,000 children with head injuries who were taken to one of 25 different emergency rooms.

In one case, a child fell off a swing, developed a severe headache and vomited once. Nonetheless, doctors waited before giving him a CT scan. Two hours later, he was a awake and talking and more or less back to his old self.

"We all want to make sure that we use CT scanning in the cases where it's likely to be positive and that we save children from the radiation for those that we know are very unlikely to be positive," Martin Osmond at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario tells Reuters.

Osmond was not among the researchers, but, he adds, "this study adds important new information about who to observe."

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